A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that newborn hearing screening is more effective than later behavioral screening when it comes to improving the developmental outcome of permanently hearing-impaired children aged 3 to 5 years old.
Traditionally, distraction hearing screening was used for hearing screening as early as the 9th month of the baby. Newborn hearing screening (as early as 2 weeks) was then introduced in more developed countries, with the belief that the earlier permanent hearing impairment was detected, the more ways to lessen the developmental disadvantages of the child. Nevertheless, no evidence exists yet to support the global implementation of this supposition.
A group of researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, led by Anna M.H. Korver, M.D., compared the developmental outcomes between permanently hearing-impaired 3 to 5-year-old children who underwent newborn hearing screening and those who underwent distraction hearing screening as babies. The study included all children born between 2003 and 2005 in the Netherlands – a total of 570,000.
The results showed that those born in the regions with newborn hearing screening had far better developmental outcomes than those who came from regions using distraction screening. Improved developmental outcomes pertaining to “higher mean social development, gross motor development and quality-of-life scores.”
"Because this study was performed nationwide, among all children born in the Netherlands in 3 subsequent years, we believe our results can be generalized to other countries with universal hearing screening programs, but the feasibility and effectiveness of newborn hearing screening programs in other countries remain to be studied," said the researchers.